Congratulations to the winners of CDW Canada's 2008 Teaching with Technology Contest
Runner-Up Prize Winner: Jay Major
Northern Lights Public School, Aurora, ON
Teaching With Technology at Northern Lights P.S.
by Jay Major

My story of using technology to enhance the lives of my students is a simple one. For the past six years, I have worked at Northern Lights Public School in Aurora, Ontario. Northern Lights originally started out as an innovative technology-based school, so as teachers, we were constantly trying to think of inventive new ways to implement technology into the curriculum and our everyday teaching practices. One of the most touching moments I have experienced as a teacher has come from something I planned using technology we had available to us.

In my second year at Northern Lights, I had decided I was tired of the traditional gifts presented to moms for Mother’s Day – tissue paper flowers and other crafts were so typical. After personally creating a “memories movie” for my wife’s first Mother’s Day after the birth of our son, I decided it would be fun to undertake this type of activity with my students.

Using Microsoft Movie Maker, each student started by writing several personal poems that would be included in the movie. Next, they all brought in a minimum of 15 personal photos that showcased how they felt about their moms. The final piece of the puzzle was for them to bring in their mom’s favourite song to be added as background music in the movie. Once we had all the pieces, the images were scanned and added to the movie, poems and personal messages were added, and the musical selection was included to complement the film. My students quickly took to the activity in a way I never imagined they would. They did things with the program I had never dreamed of, and the finished products were digital masterpieces worthy of Oscars.

The end results were priceless. I knew that we had hit a home run when I returned to school on the Monday after Mother’s Day to no fewer than 11 messages from thankful, sobbing moms on my voicemail, and six heartfelt e-mails in my inbox.

The activity was so well received by the community that I decided to try the same thing for Father’s Day, with even more impressive results. Receiving sappy messages from the mothers had been one thing, but getting teary messages on my voicemail from some of the dads made me realize that this was a unique activity that the parents would treasure forever.

Flowers whither and die, ties go out of style, and crafts get stuffed in a box somewhere and forgotten. These kinds of gifts were from my students’ hearts, complemented with the use of technology, and I knew they would last a lifetime.

I’ve done them every year since.

 
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